West Virginia’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the Wheeling-Charleston diocese and its former bishop, alleging that they “knowingly employed pedophiles.” The civil complaint, filed in Wood County Circuit Court on Tuesday, alleges that the diocese and former Bishop Michael J. Bransfield did not conduct adequate background checks and hired staff who admitted to sexually abusing children. “Parents who pay and entrust the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese and its schools to educate and care for their children deserve full transparency,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a former GOP Senate candidate, said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
In September, Bransfield was banned from exercising any priestly or episcopal ministry within the diocese amid an investigation into sexual harassment against adults and other crimes. Later that month, Morrisey’s office launched its investigation into the diocese. “Our investigation reveals a serious need for the Diocese to enact policy changes that will better protect children, just as this lawsuit demonstrates our resolve to pursue every avenue to effectuate change as no one is above the law,” he said.